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R.I.S.E. and South Carleton HS Social Change Maker ICE program.

This week Rebecca and Emma from R.I.S.E. delivered our first ever SHSM (Specialist High Skills Major) Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship training for Ms Kelly’s Health and Wellness SHSM. Each youth was partnered with a community organization that fit their passions. They met with them virtually, learned about them and the issues that they are solving, were given ideas on what they could do to help their organization. Below is Rebecca’s actionable piece. She got to learn about Osgoode Youth Association and write about what she learned. Read below!!

Have you Heard of OYA? By Rebecca Cocchetto

I had the opportunity today to learn about the Osgoode Youth Association, and what they do to help rural teenagers and kids. They provide many different services for their community and help to give youth a place to feel comfortable and safe.

It is often difficult for rural youth to find fun things to do, as many businesses and services are too far away to easily access. The Osgoode Youth Association offers a place for youth to do organized activities, and even just a hangout spot for teenagers throughout the week. There are before and after school programs for kids in grades 2-6, with structured and unstructured time to do a variety of activities. Before school, OYA will help them get ready for the day, with brushing their teeth and getting dressed. Their school bus will actually pick them up at the OYA centre, making the process easy and stress-free for parents. After school is for homework and play, with delicious snacks and some personal health education (how to handle bullying, learning yoga, and more). They also offer camps during the summer, winter break, PA days, and March break, essentially whenever school is not in session. 

Teens are given different, but equally as entertaining options at OYA. Currently there are teen drop-in nights on Thursday and Fridays, not to mention the many other activities that they frequently run. There are video game competitions, cooking and baking in OYA’s kitchen, classes to expand personal skills, and much more. Teenagers can have a safe space to do their homework and hangout with their friends, and enjoy the different activities that OYA offers. 

OYA also has the opportunity for youth-led counselling. It is a private area, youth can enter at the side of the building so that they do not have to walk past programs in the front. Youth can book their own appointments and it is completely free of charge. It is easily accessible to kids aged 12-17, providing support and help that might not otherwise be available. 

OYA is an excellent resource for rural youth, and provides a safe space for youth of many ages. Their events and regular care of youth provide a caring community for those who might need it. They can be found on Instagram and Facebook with the handle @oyacentre.

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Amplifying Youth Voice

By Aldine Emerimana, R.I.S.E. Intern

A showcase is an occasion or celebration at R.I.S.E Academy that takes place at the end of each semester. In comparison, in traditional school exams are provided before the conclusion of the semester, whereas at R.I.S.E Academy, students are given the chance to showcase their work (passion projects) to their family, friends, R.I.S.E. employees, and community members. For roughly 5-10 minutes, students are divided into breakout rooms where they can explain their projects and guests are able to ask questions and learn more about their projects. This gives students a sense of empowerment and is an alternative, less stressful way of evaluating success when compared to the stress of succeeding or failing tests. For example; one student is currently working on creating a new course for R.I.S.E. The modules he created are about different topics Another student was interested in the effects that covid has had on individuals physical/mental wellbeing. That being said, this encouraged her to pursue a career path in sports psychology. These showcase events allow students to share what they are passionate about and how they have incorporated this into their courses with R.I.S.E.

Another benefit of these showcase events is that doing so teaches them how to communicate in front of a crowd, which is a valuable career skill. They prepare content for public presentations and develop their communication skills via practice. Furthermore, students are asked questions throughout the showcase which helps them develop critical thinking skills. 

Ultimately, the showcase is empowering and gives guests the opportunity to learn more about the difference between traditional school and R.I.S.E Academy. In addition, they learn about topics that they don’t teach in school such as; mental health, socializing & networking. In fact, at R.I.S.E Academy, students get the chance to do some research about those topics, learn more about them, and teach it to others. R.I.S.E Academy’s mission is to level the field for historically underprivileged students by reducing and eliminating the discriminatory structures that are built within the standard school education concept. This showcase event is helping with this.

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Penpal North

By Aldine Emerimana. R.I.S.E. Academy Intern

Reynah is a grade 12 student at Woodroffe High School, who has launched a passion project in hopes of connecting students with Indigenious youth. She began her journey with R.I.S.E Academy as a student in the summer and continued in the fall. As part of R.I.S.E. Academy, she had to complete a passion project, which is when she chose to assist Indigenous youth living in the North, which is very meaningful to her and is a population of people she wants to continue working with in the future. Her project is titled “Compel North”, and it is for non-Indigenous and Indigenous youth to develop a bond through emails and photos, and it is an incredible way to get to know more youth in Canada, relate, and learn about their differences and resemblances. Through Reynah’s research, she became connected with a teacher in the North, Miss Connell. Reynah learned that many students in the North do not have access to proper hygiene products and clothes, which is unfortunate and saddening. She mentions that clothes and hygiene products should be a necessity not a luxury. For example, young women often struggle to afford feminine hygiene products (ie. pads and tampons). She was drawn to this idea and she decided to start a gofundme page to raise money for this school to help young women access these necessary items. 

Furthermore, Reynah is helping people understand the difference between necessities and luxuries. Relating back to our feminine hygiene products example, tampons are a necessity; thus, feminine hygiene is a crucial issue that must be prioritized. If neglected, feminine hygiene can lead to the discovery of a host of diseases. Both health and social considerations necessitate good personal cleanliness. It comprises keeping hands, head, and body clean to prevent germs and illness from spreading. What constitutes a decent personal hygiene routine? Rinsing, dental hygiene, showering, sanitary clothing, and so on… which is why they need access to these proper hygiene products such as; soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

  The funds Reynah is collecting also go towards clothes that can help provide insulation from the cold or heat, as well as act as a hygienic shield, keeping contagious and hazardous items away from the body. Due to the extreme cold weather that Northern Canada experiences, it is crucial that these youth have access to adequate warm, winter clothing. Clothing also protects them from the sun’s harmful rays. Therefore, the students in the north need to have access to the proper clothing that ultimately protects them from extreme weather conditions. 

If you would like to support Reynah’s GoFundme click here to donate!

Check out Reynah’s CTV appearance below!